If you’re looking to understand your approach to love and relationships, examining how you were raised can be helpful. Your childhood experiences significantly impact how you perceive love and express affection as an adult. That’s why understanding the five different love styles can be so enlightening.
The 5 Love Styles are a framework psychologist Drs. Kay and Milan Yerkovich developed, categorizing individuals based on their typical behaviors in romantic relationships.
Each of these five styles – the Pleaser, the Victim, the Controller, the Vacillator, and the Avoider – is shaped by specific childhood experiences and patterns of behavior. You can gain insight into your relationship strengths and weaknesses by identifying which style resonates most with you.
So whether you’re single or in a committed partnership, exploring your love style can help deepen your understanding of yourself and your romantic desires.
Love Style Overview
So, let’s get real; you’re probably wondering, ‘What the heck is love styles, and how can they reveal my childhood?’ Well, my friend, sit tight because we’re about to dive into it.
Love styles refer to how we express and receive love and our attachment style. It is based on the primary love language that we developed during childhood.
Your childhood experiences shape your beliefs about yourself and your relationships. Your attachment style determines whether you feel secure or anxious in a relationship.
You may have developed healthy or unhealthy habits when expressing and receiving love depending on how well your caregivers met your needs.
The five love styles are The Pleaser, The Victim, The Controller, The Vacillator, and The Avoider. Each one has its unique traits that reveal what kind of childhood they had.
For instance, the Pleaser may exhibit codependent tendencies, while the avoider may struggle with emotional ups and downs due to neglect or abandonment during their upbringing. Now let’s take a closer look at the pleaser love style.
If you’re a pleaser, you probably grew up with parents who were always critical or overprotective. As a result, you learned to avoid negative responses and keep everyone happy, even if it means lying or spreading yourself thin.
You may have also found yourself giving comfort to your reactive parent instead of receiving comfort from them. According to Milan and Kay Yerkovich’s book on Love Styles, this love style is called the Pleaser.
Pleasers tend to focus more on the needs and desires of others instead of building a strong independent self. They avoid conflict and have a hard time saying no, preferring to keep everyone happy.
This often leads them to have breakdowns and flee from relationships when they can no longer handle the stress of trying to please everyone.
To cultivate stable relationships as a Pleaser, being honest about your feelings is essential. Learn how to receive love by allowing others to give you words of affirmation or acts of service without feeling guilty for accepting their help.
Express love by setting healthy boundaries and learning how to say no when necessary. By doing so, you’ll be able to build strong relationships based on mutual respect rather than just trying to keep everyone else happy all the time.
As we discuss the next love style – the Victim – it’s important for Pleasers not to fall into the trap of taking on too much responsibility for other people’s problems. Remember that it’s okay – even necessary – for others in your life to take care of themselves sometimes too.
Victims of abuse often struggle with low self-esteem and have learned to rely on compliance as a coping mechanism. This can greatly affect how we love and the love styles we develop later in life.
How one often grows up in a chaotic environment where one needs to be compliant to survive plays a significant role in future romantic relationships.
Abuse victims may develop the ‘victim’ love style, which involves being passive and complacent in relationships.
They may avoid conflict at all costs and feel uncomfortable expressing their needs or desires out of fear of upsetting their partner.
As a result, they attract partners who are controlling or manipulative, such as ‘avoiders’ or ‘vacillators,’ perpetuating the cycle of abuse.
Victims need to recognize that their past experiences do not define them but rather provide an opportunity for growth and healing.
By learning self-love and standing up for themselves, victims can break free from the Victim’s love style and cultivate healthy relationships.
In the next section, we’ll explore how victims’ desire for control can manifest into becoming controllers themselves.
Growing up without a sense of protection, controllers develop a need for control that can manifest into rigid tendencies and anger as a tool for maintaining control.
As adults, they associate control with protection from negative feelings and prefer to solve problems on their own. This can lead to difficulty in letting go and trusting others, causing strain in relationships.
Controllers may struggle with the love styles of quality time and physical touch, preferring instead to maintain control over their environment. However, they need to recognize that these love languages are crucial for relationship intimacy.
By stepping out of their comfort zones and allowing themselves to be vulnerable in these areas, controllers can learn to build stronger connections with their loved ones.
According to Gary Chapman’s “The 5 Love Languages,” it is essential for controllers to work on controlling their anger and learning how to communicate effectively with those around them.
Doing so can establish healthier relationship dynamics built on mutual respect and understanding. In the next section, we will explore the love style of the vacillator and how childhood experiences shape this type’s approach to intimacy.
You may have experienced a deep fear of abandonment if you are a vacillator due to unpredictable parenting in your childhood.
This love style is shaped by inconsistent affection from parents, which can lead to internal conflicts and sensitivity to changes in others.
As an adult, you may idealize relationships but become dejected when let down. You struggle to receive love when it’s finally given to you because of this deep-seated fear.
Kay Yerkovich, the author of “How We Love,” describes the vacillator as reactive and having a highly emotional response to situations.
Vacillators tend to use their emotions as a guide for decision-making, which can make them impulsive in romantic relationships.
To cultivate stable relationships, pacing yourself and getting to know someone before committing is important.
The love language theory can be helpful for vacillators because it identifies different ways that people give and receive love.
By understanding your love language, you can communicate your needs more effectively with your partner. If you’re a vacillator struggling with intimacy issues, we highly recommend seeking therapy or counseling.
Understanding how your childhood experiences shape your adult behavior can help you overcome these obstacles and build healthier relationships in the future.
As we discuss the avoider love style next, remember that childhood experiences shape each style and have unique challenges when building intimate connections with others.
The avoider love style tends to prioritize logic and detachment over emotions due to their upbringing in less affectionate and independent homes.
Growing up, you may have learned to take care of yourself early on, suppressing your feelings in the process. This self-reliance led you to value control over your emotions, often resulting in an avoidance of emotional intensity in others.
As an avoider, you may struggle with expressing your own emotions honestly. You have been conditioned to believe that vulnerability equals weakness and that emotions should be avoided rather than embraced.
In relationships, this can create a reactive cycle where partners become frustrated with your lack of emotional responsiveness or inability to connect on a deeper level.
Avoiders must recognize how their childhood experiences have shaped their approach toward love styles.
By acknowledging these patterns and working through any underlying fears or insecurities, avoiders can develop the ability to express themselves emotionally and engage more fully in healthy relationships based on mutual trust and intimacy.
So, now you know about the 5 love styles and how they reveal your childhood type. Interestingly, according to one study, almost half of the adults identified as having an insecure attachment style, including the Victim, Controller, Vacillator, and Avoider love styles.
But don’t worry if you identify with one of these styles. The first step in changing your love style is recognizing it. Once you understand where it comes from, you can start working towards healthier ways of loving and being loved. Remember, your past doesn’t have to define your future relationships.
Gary Chapman introduced the concept of love languages in his book "The 5 Love Languages". The 5 love languages are words of affirmation, quality time, receiving gifts, acts of service, and physical touch. Each person has a preferred love language through which they prefer to receive love.
To use the love languages theory, you need to learn how to express your love to others in the way that suits them best. It could be as simple as leaving love notes for someone who values words of affirmation, cuddling on the couch with someone who prefers physical touch, or spending undivided attention with someone who values quality time. People can take the quiz to find out their own love language and learn how to open themselves up to the other's love language.
There is no one specific love that is considered the strongest kind of love. However, some may argue that unconditional love, which involves loving someone despite their flaws, is the most powerful kind of love. It is the type of love that takes effort, patience, and understanding to develop, but it can lead to stable relationships that last a lifetime.
Ludic love is a type of love that is playful and focused on enjoying the moment. This love involves keeping things light and fun without becoming too serious or attached. People who value ludic love may be uncomfortable with conflict and prefer to stay under the radar. They may also have a fear of losing control and stepping out of their comfort zone. However, learning how to pace themselves and being honest about their own feelings can help them develop deeper and more meaningful relationships.